Can I use horse shampoo on my hair?

Some say you can, and others would like you to believe you need two separate products. Why both sides of the argument are both right and wrong is that neither are really comparing like for like. Some even have information that is clearly false. The answer is in the ingredients list and to some extent, the rest of the label on the bottle you are thinking of using.

There are a lot of claims made about balanced pH (the acidity) and how close the product is to the pH of the hair and underlying skin being cleaned. Whilst it is certainly true that the pH between horse and dog skin is enough to really need two separate products, horse and human pH values are remarkably close.

What truly makes the difference to drying and irritating effects are what ingredients the manufacturer uses to do the cleaning – the detergent or surfactant – and what moisturising ingredients are present to counter those drying and irritating qualities.

A product with a strong surfactant such as the well-known, if not a little controversial, Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS) is a lot stronger at stripping off the oils and grease than a mild ingredient such as Decyl Glucoside (made from coconut and corn). SLS unquestionably will strip your hair and skin, leaving it feeling dry, if you do not use a conditioner or some other form of moisturiser immediately afterwards. 

Ingredients to look for

Look out for combinations of mild, naturally derived cleaning ingredients such as:

  • Coco Glucoside
  • Decyl Glucoside**
  • Lauryl Glucoside
  • Decyl Glucoside
  • Lauryl Glucoside
  • Sucrose Cocoate
  • Caprylyl / Capryl glucoside
  • Lauryl Betaine**

** Decyl Glucoside and Lauryl Betaine offer an excellent combination of cleaning, foaming and non-drying. We use these in our Nourishing Shampoo, Refreshing Wash and Invigorating Wash

Ingredients to avoid

Ingredients to avoid due to their harsh strength and skin irritation concerns generally have Sulfate at the end of their name. There are many of these however, the more commonly used ones are:

  • Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES)
  • Ammonium Laureth Sulfate (ALES)
  • Sodium Cetyl, Stearyl or Cetearly Sulfate
  • Sodium Palmitate, Laurate, Stearate, Olivate, Cocoate or Tallowate
  • Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)
  • Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate (ALS)
  • Magnesium Lauryl Sulfate
  • TEA-Lauryl Sulfate
  • Sodium Coco Sulfate
  • Sodium Myristyl Sulfate

Applicable regulations

There is also the issue of regulations. To be able to be legally sold for use on humans, they need to have been tested to meet the EU rules (Regulation (EC) N° 1223/2009) and registered on the EU database, which as a pet product they generally do not do.

You may like to read our blog on using horse products on yourself here.

Our products

Our Nourishing Shampoo, Refreshing Wash and Invigorating Wash have all been tested to meet the EU human cosmetics regulations and are registered on the EU database.

So if you would like to use our shampoo and washes on yourself, please do go right ahead, safe in the knowledge that not only will they do a great job, but that they are certified to be safe to do so.


  1. Biophysical characterization of skin damage and recovery after exposure to different surfactants. Barany, E. et al. 1999
  2. Safety assessment of decyl glucoside and other alkyl glucosides as used in cosmetics. Fiume, M.M. et al. 2013